Tuesday, August 10, 2010

#181 - Bible School

Let me just start by saying that my one (1) semester of Bible School was one of the most fun periods of my life. I got introduced to the war between Contemporary Christian music and Gospel (I swear that if they had sung 'Open The Eyes of My Heart Lord' one more time I was gonna stab someone so that their heart would be the only way they'd be seeing). I learned that 1-4-5 gets boring really, really fast. I was once told that I could play one chord, fourths, for the entire song. Thanks for that, by the way.

But I got to be involved with some incredibly talented people, see aspects of ministry that blew my mind and watch young people take their first steps into ministry in ways that were incredible. I have enduring friendships and connections from Bible School - I've met tons of other people through friends at other Bible Schools - the social networking aspect is amazing. I also grew a fat stomach for the first time in my life, frequented Krispe Kreme donuts almost every day (I had a booklet of free dozens), and got the worst GPA I'd ever had in my life. Typically at least a 3.0 student, I descended into the abyss of the 1 point something zone. I think it had to do with the 7am classes (who does that - really people, you should think out the scheduling a little better). I fell asleep in that 7am class whenever I managed to attend (Thanks to Terry Baughman for being kind), faked my way through sight singing and had a blast the whole time.

But at the end of the semester, it was decision time. "Do I come back or not?" So what had been a blast, an escape and an all around good time had to be thought over. So here we go - a look at the phenomenon that is Bible School.


What do you do with your child when they're finished with High School? They've been sheltered, perhaps Home-schooled, and now they're at the stage where keeping them at home and completely sheltered from the world is becoming increasingly difficult. The answer? Bible College! Here's why:

1. Bible School will surround your child (almost adult) with other people of like precious faith in an unsustainably 'spiritual' environment where they will go from glory to glory and ascend to dizzying heights of spirituality and godliness. (Where else can you find midnight prayer meetings on a regular basis that people actually attend?)

2. There will be a campus pastor. This person will be like a parent, thus making the fictitious nature of 'freedom' easier to bear for the parent while still giving the child some latitude to engage in the heretofore villainized world. (This poor guy has the worst job at the school; the parents want more, the kids want less, and he's constantly being monitored by the school.)

3. There is an entire staff of people who will monitor the clothing choices of your child. They will not be allowed to dress like heathens and be immodest.

4. They will be further indoctrinated in the ways of the UPCI (unless they went to CLC prior to Dan Segraves and Jeff Garner leaving - and even then, David Bernard's books are required reading).

5. They'll be getting an education without any fears of contamination by that evolution crap or liberal agendas or crazy humanities or any critical thought that will really make them think all while supporting the belief set you have drilled in to their heads from the time they were able to formulate small sentences.

6. If they do question anything you taught them, it will probably have to do with sleeve length and whether shorts are acceptable or not. Although I do remember a couple of guys I knew who showed up in the dorms with brand new matching lightning bolt tattoos. Think Harry Potter, only instead of on their foreheads, it was on their right shoulders. I was then required to read the Bible and figure out whether tattoos were actually a sin or just a cultural taboo. Wow, that's a paradigm shift. But then again, maybe not.

7. They will be required to attend church services and attendance will be taken to make sure they are there. If they miss, fines will accrue. (Every bad action has an equal or greater reaction that inevitably has a fine attached. There's a reason Bible College students are always broke.)


You parents should be aware. There are other parents who send their kids to Bible School because they are at their wits end. So what you also get are the problem kids. Kids who smoke pot and sleep around. Kids who are exploring their sexuality. Kids who are questioning everything. And they all get thrown into the same pot.

So although there are curfews and dress codes and midnight prayer meetings, and no mixed bathing at the beach, there are also curfew breakers, kids having sex in the school library/parking lot/chapel/etc., teenage pregnancies and the gay/lesbian who comes out and then continues their ministry in the gay pentecostal movement. Not to mention the inevitable interest in alcohol and all that entails. Much to my surprise (I found out after I left) there was a room that was known for being the party room and people got drunk in there frequently.

And the best part? If (and that's a very big if) you manage to make it through all four years of Bible School - you get a diploma. A diploma that doesn't mean anything unless you're at a UPCI event where you see all your other friends who went to the same school you went to. Or a neighboring school. Then it's cool because of social networking. And you know people. And people know you. And if you happen to be talented, you might get asked to do music at an event, or speak at a conference. In the Apo/Penny world. Try and do anything outside of that and the diploma you just spent four (4) years to get, and you get a blank stare and the realization slowly dawns: "that school isn't accredited." Even though they've been trying since the 60's. It still hasn't happened. And nobody in the greater Christian subculture even knows what this school is. Unless it's Missouri Baptist and then you can transfer over. And Gateway students said, "Hallelujah!"

I remember an instructor telling me that the education I would get at Bible School was as good as one in a secular college. Which made me wonder, "if they're equivalent, why not go to the one where I'll get an accredited degree?"

So the next logical step would be to discuss the available Bible School options. Which we will do in the next few blogs. But I'd like some input from you all. To those of you who are either current Bible School students or alumni would be interested in doing a brief, but humorous write up of the college of your choice and email it to joelrile@gmail.com. We'd love to post your take - we can credit you with authoring the piece or you can remain anonymous - it is up to you.

I went to CLC so I'll be posting that one in the next few days and someone is already taking Gateway - but if you went/go to IBC, TBC, ABI, Kent, or JCM, please feel free to send us an email. If I've missed any schools, let me know.


  1. <<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    your saying that all of these things happen, yet in spite of these things taking place it might be a good idea to immerse an 18 year old in this atmosphere?


    I hope my sons own their own businesses and my daughters marry, bear children and guide the home. No Bible School needed for that. Of course we serve a God of surprises so....we shall see.

  2. @quicklyhome, is owning a business what your sons want to do? Maybe your daughters feel a call to the mission field... Don't be so quick to pigeonhole your children into what YOU want them to be at the expense of them feeling after the Holy Spirit and what He wants them to be.

  3. My oldest is 13 so just now considering a vocation and yes, he is interested in owning a business. My daughter wants to be a housewife.

    No pigeon holes. At all. Futures are subject to change and God is God.

    His word does still say for the young women to keep the home, and young men to be sober, yet those things arent really being promoted at these Bible Schools.

    Remember in my original post I said God is full of surprises.Im open to His will. I am pretty sure His will doesnt involve me investing the greatest part of my life in training up Godly children so I can then drop them off with kids who smoke pot and sleep around.

    Thats all.

  4. I'm not sure what bible college you went to, but my experience is totally different from yours, apparently. Furthermore, I take great umbrage with your absolutely baseless assertion that bible colleges promote a lack of sobriety, or other things contrary to Scripture (or your interpretation of it). Plus, your asinine comment that the students "smoke pot and sleep around" is not only a generalization of the conduct of a very small minority, but is a swipe at all the people who invest themselves into the development of the students.

    I sincerely hope that you're not as arrogant and self-righteous as your post sounds.

  5. kc8ppo, he went to CLC. Last paragraph of the post.

    As someone who's always been slightly bewildered by those who go to Bible School without a professed calling or even a desire to receive such a calling to some sort of ministry, I thoroughly enjoyed this post... especially in light of its timeliness as several young people I know are having "going to Bible School" good-bye parties in the next few weeks.

    I didn't go to Bible School. To be honest, it never crossed my mind as a possibility... Of the people I know who did go, several are backslidden, and that used to REALLY stand out to me, as a great indicator that Bible School was, well, worthless. Then one day I thought about how many people I know who went to my college, and college in general can't find jobs in their field... and I realized I shouldn't judge Bible School so harshly. Those who backslide are comparable to the adults I know who never finished their college degree or can't find a use for their college degree -- or at least they are in my mind. That may be the only place this makes sense :)

  6. A few things have always baffled me about Bible schools.
    1 Why so many? There are what 6 or so + UGST and are rather tiny (I can't find numbers but they look to be less than 1,000 students) Economy of scale would suggest if you made one larger school you could work cheaper and better.
    2 Why so cheep? Bible schools seem to be cash strapped yet tuition and fees are half of a state school (see Gateway vs Ball State U). Let alone a privet school.
    3 What is the point of an unaccredited school? The degree is fare more incorporate then the education since that is what employers look at. A degree that is not from a regionally accredited school is worth less.

    Here is my plan. Consolidate all 7 into 1 university with one campus and get accredited asap. Then double or triple the tuition and fees.

    On a side note I talked with one Bible school student who was using his misery and his carer interchangeable. Does that bug any one else?

  7. One more comment, admittedly slightly more negative - I have thought that the reason some young people leave the church post Bible School has something to do with the fact that they're in this highly spiritualized environment, always riding this high of prayer/praise/church/outreach... and they envision themselves in great, highly-paid ministerial positions at massive mega-churches after graduation... and then after the ride is over, they DON'T end up at that amazing mega-church and they're no longer surrounded by hundreds of other young people on fire for God... and on top of that, they don't have the credentials or experience to get a good-paying job... and it all falls apart.

    But again, that's a negative thought. Is it true? I think it is for some people (to what degree, I have NO idea), but you tell me :)

  8. I cant imagine it would ever be a waste to go to Bible School. There is alot of over generalization in the comments. Anytime you spend learning about the Word of God and hiding it in your heart is not a waste of time.
    Some will always backslide....but they just may come back too.

  9. quickly home - I wanted to point out that in the blog I never explicitly stated that Bible School was a good option or not. I'll leave that up to the person who is thinking of attending. Although I would point out that I only went one semester which would seem to point to the idea that I didn't think it was the best option - especially for myself. But we all experience things differently.

    kc8ppo - You might want to read the blog again. It seems that you missed a couple paragraphs and some adjectives that will hopefully change the tone of the blog and qualify a few statements. Let me clear up a couple of things for you - First, I did not state that Bible Colleges "promote a lack of sobriety." Second, relating to the students who "smoke pot and sleep around" is, within the context of the paragraph, clearly not the majority or a generalization characterizing the whole. And even you admitted in your comment that those things do happen. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you seem to be more interested in the teachers than the students - and I did not, nor do I, blame teachers for student's actions.

    Grace & Peace

  10. I thought about going to 9 months of church camp...I mean bible college...after graduation. But then I thought to myself "Self, are you called to be a preacher? No. Are you called to be a music minister? I don't sing. Are you called to be a full time church employee? No."
    Then I said to myself "Self, do you have tens of thousands of dollars that you wouldn't miss if you flushed it down the toilet, set it on fire, or soaked it in paint thinner? Um..No.."
    So then I decided I would grow up, let go of my desire to keep my life the way it was at 17 and do something real with my life.
    Kudos to all the Peter Pans out there that decided to stay in the never never land year round church camp. You've got guts.

  11. @Ryan, neither of my comments, particularly my second post, were directed at you or were in response to the original post. Both were responses to QuicklyHome's comments. The comments regarding drug use and rampant promiscuity, as made by QuicklyHome, are generalizations and are patently false. Your (@Ryan) comments are reasonable in context. Furthermore, her (QH)(or his) basic assumption that she should drop her children (though they are adults at that point, not children) off with kids who do those activities ignores the reality that her offspring will meet and interact with far more drug and sexually active people on a secular job than at bible college. Of course there are a FEW people that do those things, but they amount to less than 2% of the student body (from my experience).

    Bible college is not church camp. That atmosphere lasts a couple weeks. After that it's just like any other collegiate environment; jobs, classes, the daily grind. That assertion is essentially like saying that secular college is a nine-month keg party, or prom night.

    A big deal is made about accreditation. Why? What is the point of a bible college being accredited? If a student is looking for a piece of paper that will help them get a good job in the secular world, why are they even considering going to bible college? Conversely, for someone who is feeling the indescribable pull into the ministry, accreditation doesn't matter. Getting a secular job isn't the point. If that is the goal, don't consider bible college.

    Several comments have been made to the effect that, because some students never enter the ministry and/or totally backslide, that negates any positive effect of bible college. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nobody backslides overnight; it is always a process that begins far before anyone knows what's happening. Bible college may exacerbate said process, but it is VERY rarely the cause. If someone is standing at or approaching a crossroads in his life, and is looking towards Sodom, him and him only is responsible for the decision. Point is, if someone is going to backslide, they will regardless of where they are at. But if a person has a made-up mind and is focused on fulfilling the calling, the environment will be a great help.

  12. ******kc8ppo said...
    @Ryan, neither of my comments, particularly my second post, were directed at you or were in response to the original post. Both were responses to QuicklyHome's comments.*****

    So Im arrogant and self righteous? Probably a bit of both but I dont understand how you discerned that through my post. I was actually quoting Ryan when I said the kids "smoke pot and sleep around". In fact I copied and pasted that from the original blog post.

    Your right my children will not be children at Bible College age. Very good point. They will be young adults with lifes most important decisions looming large in their lives. That age is a crucial age for so many reasons. Convictions are being firmed up. Marriage is a possibility. Vocations are being established. So many important things going on.

    I would rather they go into the world, equipped with Gods Spirit and His Word than into a Bible College. In the world they know they have to keep their guard up.Their objective is to love and minister. In BC its not so clear.

    I agree there will be more sin at a job than in BC but at the job its understood and expected. I would rather my children mingle with blatant sin than subtle sin that is wrapped up in a pretty uniform singing and praising God by day and carousing by night.

  13. @kc8ppo To your point "...for someone who is feeling the indescribable pull into the ministry, accreditation doesn't matter." There is the implicit assumption that one is ether going to get a job or minister. Yet we forget the bivocational minister who will need to get a job, and therefor needs an accredited degree.
    I have been blessed to be under two pastors in the past for 5 and 3 years that were bivocational (both churches were <<100 and had a few other bivocational ministers). The relevance that their work experience brought to their ministry was quite refreshing. Nether church could support a full time mister and would just not exist if not for the other jobs of the ministers. Also at that time we had a bivocational evangelist that was a big blessing but the area could not support to pay him a living wage.
    The 21st chenchery has new demands that I feel will require the grater use of bivocational ministers which will require accredited degrees. The question I see is whether to go to an accredited Bible school or a state school and self study theology or a blend such as the one year of cores done after completion of a bachelor's degree.

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  15. kc8ppo - Apologies for the misunderstanding. Thanks for clearing that up.

  16. @QH, While I see a bit of your point regarding blatant sin vs cloaked sin, I've been in both environments, seen both sides, and haven't seen any consequential difference in effect. If a person goes to church long enough, he will see hypocrites. Sad, but true. Better learn to handle it at a young age instead of having to learn this life lesson as an older adult.

    @John, you make a good point regarding bivocational ministers. However, a college degree isn't required to get a good job. In the secular job that I currently have, God has blessed me to make more money than most people who do have degrees. Hard work, reliability, and smarts will make money. There are ample job opportunities for people who don't have degrees to make good money. I do STRONGLY believe that a young person (especially men) need to have at least one skill, be it in construction, computer repair, or whatever, that they can use to support themselves. But a degree isn't always necessary. It can help, but its not a requirement.

    Edited for content, deleted the original and added the following.

    When considering college, a young person must make a choice based upon what the long term goal is. If the goal is to be a good saint, have a good job to support and raise a family, sure, go to college and get a degree. But if the goal is to be involved in the ministry, why spend four years or more getting a degree that won't necessarily help attain stated goal? There are far cheaper and quicker ways to acquire job skills than that! Trade school, apprenticeships, etc.

    Let me also add, I am a very firm believer that every young minister should, after bible college, spend a couple years working in the local church and holding a full-time secular job, prior to entering full time or mostly full time ministry. Those years force the individual to sink roots, not only spiritually, but personally as well. As you, John, say, the relevance of work experience brings refreshing and enlightenment to the ministry.

    @Ryan, no problem. I didn't make it clear in my posts who I was speaking to.

  17. I was privileged to attend Jackson College of Ministries in Jackson, MS for the last year and a half before it closed. Bible College is not for everyone but it was deff for me! The time that I spent there was the best year and a half of my life. My main reason for going there was to be a piano teacher and that is exactly what I am doing now. JCM gave me the musical skills to not only teach private piano lessons from my home but also help when needed at my church. No it was not accredited but honestly a piece of paper does not mean you know what you are doing. I did attend the Univeristy of Arizona and i do believe that the ideal thing is for a student to go to secular school then attend Bible College if they feel called to do so. I am all for getting a secular degree but that doesnt degrade the what a bible college can offer.

    There is no bible college, youth group, church or even work enviroment that is without flaws. I have heard several horror stories from events that happened at bible college but I have to say that my time at JCM was nothing like that. Yes, there have been a few of my friends who have backsliden since they left to school but that is just as true for my home church youth group? Its all about an individual and their desire to live for God. It has nothing to do with the institution in which they attend.